Covid Cases Fall To Lowest Level In 5 Months But Boris Johnson Warns School Reopening Will Cause Numbers To Rise
Boris Johnson thanked the "huge national effort to keep kids at home” as Covid infections fell to their lowest level since September (Alamy
Boris Johnson said thanks to the "huge national effort to keep kids at home” Covid-19 cases have fallen to their lowest level since late September - but warned schools reopening will see them go up again.
The Prime Minister said the drastic drop in infections during the third lockdown meant that we could take “that crucial first step on what we hope is our cautious but irreversible road map to freedom”.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference after pupils in England enjoyed their first day back in the classroom since 3 January he said it was a "big day and an emotional day" for millions of families.
"We all know that the education of our children is so important that the greater risk now is keeping them out of school for a day longer,” he said.
"I want to thank all the teachers who have got their schools ready and who have been teaching throughout the period - whether that is remotely or in person. Your work has been astonishing.”
As home schooling begins to draw to an end, and speaking on International Women’s Day, he added: "We all know that the burden has disproportionately fallen on women - often holding down jobs and providing childcare at the same time."
But he cautioned that reopening classrooms "will of course have an impact on the spread of the virus".
The PM warned: "We do accept of course there will be a risk of increased transmission, that’s inevitable.
"If you open up schools to millions of kids across the country that’s going to happen, but we think we can do it now the way we are because we have the proportion of the population vaccinated.
"And with the number of patients being admitted to hospital with Covid each day still eight times higher than the lows of last summer it’s more vital than ever to follow the rules."
Appearing alongside him Dr Jenny Harries, England's deputy chief medical officer, made a similar warning.
With infections now below 100 per 100,000 of population in every part of the country she said: "This is a level at which a new wave could easily take off from again.”
The current seven-day average of new cases per day stands at 5,889, the lowest it has been since 25 September last year.
She said deaths were falling faster than other indicators, suggesting the vaccine was having an impact, but added that there was still "substantial strain" on the NHS.
The news conference came after government data showed the total number of vaccines administered in the UK now stands at 23,519,898.
Of those 22,377,255 were first doses, a rise of 164,143 on the previous day, while 1,142,643 were second doses, an increase of 20,241.
And the government also revealed a further 65 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday, bringing the UK total to 124,566.